Nick is not really much of a cake person. Although for someone who claims not to like cake very much he has made some pretty special cakes himself. He often tackles the recipes I would shy away from because they're too fiddly - he just gets the ingredients weighed out and gets on with it, head down and completely focused.
However, of all the cakes in the world, his absolute favourite is a ginger cake, and he waxes lyrical about the Be-Ro book ginger cake.
I got out my copy of the Be-Ro book and as I weighed out the ingredients memories of past ginger cakes came to mind. My mum and my grandma used to make this same cake, using the Be-Ro book recipe, it was a family favourite. It was made in a small oblong meat roasting tin. We didn't possess a huge collection of different tins in those days. There was a pair of sponge tins, a bun tin for fairy cakes, maids of honour and mince pies, a baking tray and a deep cake tin for the Christmas cake. It was very much a case of make do with what we had and in fact a lot of old fashioned recipes didn't specify the size of tin at all.
This recipe uses the simplest of ingredients that would have been standard fare in everyone's pantry in the 1950's and 60's. No fancy flours or the kinds of ginger that feature so often in modern recipes. I doubt my mum would have ever even seen or heard of fresh ginger. Ginger came dried in a jar. (In fact I'm not sure that in the very early days if it didn't come in a tin.)
I hadn't made one of these for donkey's years. Yet it's the best ginger cake you could wish for. Just look at that sticky, glossy top and the dense, even crumb. It has a spicy treacliness that's absolutely divine. The taste of my childhood and just as way back then, the kitchen smelled wonderful all afternoon.
225g plain flour
a pinch of salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g soft dark brown sugar
175g black treacle
50g golden syrup
2 med eggs, beaten
50g sultanas (optional, I omitted them)
First, measure your margarine, treacle and golden syrup directly into a small saucepan. Heat gently until the margarine has melted, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat, stir in the milk and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 150°C / 130° fan / gas mk 2. Grease and line the bottom of an 18cm square or 20cm round tin.
Sift the flour, salt, spices and bicarb into a bowl. Stir in the sugar and mix well to combine. Add the beaten eggs and mix well. Stir in the cooled treacle mixture. Add the sultanas if using and stir again.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 - 1¼ hours. Mine was done in 1 hour so check early on.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Cuts into around 16 slices.